My friend has a brain tumor. My beloved friend, that I cherish and means the world, HAS A BRAIN TUMOR.
I found out via facebook. At work. With the children. I cried. They cried. It was awful. But also enlightening.
My friend K and I lost touch some time ago when I went my way and he, his. My friend and I came-of-age together in a small grocery store in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was from the town next to ours and my girl friends and I had crushes on him and his friends. By 8th grade, we were “burned out” on the boys at our school. So, we convinced our families to drive us 20 minutes in the middle of a UP winter to hang out with new friends!
It was a blast. Our parents hated it. Oh man, they would hate city life! I drive so much, now.
But I digress. K stood out to me. He wasn’t the typical boy. He didn’t just like girls because they were “hot” and he didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t. He was kind. He was smart and funny. Witty. He reminded me of my friend S growing up, that had moved away (there is a blog entry about him, too). We worked together in high school, as well, and he dated my friends. We were buds. We laughed. We cried. We dreamed. We pondered.
He was sensitive too, like me. Caring. Empathetic. Wise. An Old Soul. A lover of art and beauty. A charismatic leader and quite the charmer. A gifted athlete and cherished family member. He and I related in many ways (minus the sports things…)
And he was much more confident about it, than I! I admired him, so. I still do 🙂
I always had male friends. Girls and I did not do well together. I was selective in those friendships. I have all brothers (all younger) and I am a very feeling and sensitive person. Today, I realize what a gift it is. But other children, girls especially, prey on the weak. Mentally. Boys just fight with fists (thanks testosterone!) But girls have TWO hormones.
So, girls fight in vicious ways. And then they make-up and, hopefully, forget it ever happened.
I have, like, 12 hormones, I swear. So I couldn’t play that game, so to speak. Couldn’t afford to, in terms of my mental health.
I stuck to the boys. And grown-ups. I came out of the womb as a fully formed human in a lil baby shell. Just me 🙂
Back to K (my friend K. The “other” K):
K has always been very special to me, personally. I know there are so many that feel the same way.
Sounds dramatic, But I was struggling with what I now know to be a mental health issue. Which I have grown into I. I have learned to cope; to manage. To actively fight and advocate for my own mental/physical health. I have to. It is, quite literally, a matter of life or death for me.
Because when it gets dark, it gets so dark. And when it’s bright, it’s too bright. And when it’s scary, it’s crippling.
And, at age 21, it was the scariest time of my life. I thought about just escaping the pain. I never voiced that thought out loud until a month ago. Sometimes, if meds weren’t working properly, or if I was very low, I would tell my mom that I was having dark thoughts. She would take me to the doctor. We would sort it out. I want to reiterate: I LOVE MY LIFE. In my normal state and when my meds are working. I would never willingly leave this earth. I could never leave the beauty behind, on my own terms. I love too hard and fiercely.
But people with mental illness know what I am talking about. It’s time to normalize mental health. Remove the stigma. Too many suffer silently and take on the world and its problems. Too many suffer silently and choose to end that suffering for themselves.
It is torturous; being in a constant battle with your brain/body as it turns against you. EVERY DAY. EVERY HOUR. ALL THE TIME.
Meds help. Counseling helps. Support. Awareness. Healing. Hobbies. People. All of it.
It quite literally takes a village. And WE, as our own best friends, need to be the Village “chief.” ALWAYS. Vigilently.
My friend K always got that. Especially about me. It was unsaid between us. He has a great heart and an amazing brain. It is why I am SO ANGRY AT THAT STUPID TUMOR! Thankfully, it is benign and he will be okay. He has his wits, his fighting spirit, his humor, charm, and spirit intact. And MUCH more!
I never said that in writing. Never publically.
I didn’t have to.
He came to visit me during that scary time with my friend A, who he was dating at the time. A great pair of good people. They were the friends to do so. I appreciated it, then, and am grateful beyond measure for it today. It was the new healthy friendships I made during that scary time that got me through it. But K and A, together, were my link to my past. And they gave me strength and reminded me of my truth.
He made me look him in the eyes and tell him that I promised to make it out ok and come back stronger and more myself, again.
And I did. It’s a constant struggle (see above). Still. But I owe so much to him. My life, in many ways. Not just him, to be fair. But I owe so much to so many, including myself. It is a debt I take on gladly.
My friend K’s strength in that moment touched me in a way that never left. It was like someone saw me TRULY for the first time in a long time and I didn’t have to explain one thing.
No judgement. Just unconditional love/support. That is K.
That is the friend that used to prank me at work and make me laugh sooooo much.
We lost touch, for awhile. And a STUPID brain tumor brought us back together.
The world is funny in its symmetry. That was 10 years ago; my scary time. Now, it is his. But he will be okay, just like I am. The doctors said so! I say so! WE SAY SO! K, himself, is the first to say so!
We are saving K’s brain. We are treating it. It’s expensive!
I don’t know why horrible things happen to the best people. It is a forever mystery. I don’t think it is because “God” thinks we can “handle it,” though.
I think it’s a crapshoot.
Us good people, however, respond differently. We rise in the face of adversity. We fight.
So we stand out as examples of HOW TO DO IT. So, the world turns its attention to us.
It’s okay. We should be the example. We should be the exceptions.
God Bless you all.
All my best,
PS…if you want to BE GOOD today (and always), here is a link to the Go Fund Me page for my (our) dear friend, brother, son, husband, father, mentor, coach, partner, colleague, wonderful stranger (and a little strange), K.
Please consider spreading the love.
Whatever We Are (?), Let’s be Good Ones! Please.